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Shaping the business of legal marijuana

A budtender pours marijuana from a jar.
A budtender pours marijuana from a jar.
David McNew/Getty Images

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This past election cycle, both Washington and Colorado approved the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Supporters of legalization in both states celebrated by toking up in public. At the time, law enforcement agencies looked the other way.

But that approach can’t last forever. Now it’s  down to citizens, businesses, trade associations and lawmakers to figure out the best way to actually roll out regulations and licensing protocol to allow for the production, processing and retail of legalized marijuana. Beyond parsing out the details on the state level, Washington and Colorado also must figure out how to reconcile their own laws with those of the federal government.

The U.S. has made no concessions or changes to its stance on recreational marijuana use; it’s still illegal to be bought, grown, sold and smoked at the national level. It  remains to be seen how these sets of conflicting laws will interact.  

How will Washington and Colorado dole out licenses for marijuana production, processing and retail sale? Which state board will oversee the new marijuana economy? Who will be influencing this policy? How will things change for marijuana users in those states?  Could this development affect marijuana laws nationally?


Muraco Kyashna-tocha, director of the Evergreen State Cannabis Trade Alliance, a registered non-profit committed to promoting a safe, legally regulated cannabis industry in Washington State

Kayvan Khalatbari
, part-owner of Denver Relief, a medical marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colorado